Tema-Ghana, Nov. 1 – Mr. Joseph Whittal, Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has been awarded the prestigious De Sanctis Foundation Award for the 2023 Human Rights Prize for his outstanding contributions to the protection and promotion of human rights on the African continent.
The award also recognises Mr. Whittal’s enormous contribution to broadening the frontiers of human rights promotion in the country in general, as well as the CHRAJ’s general commitment and demonstration to fight for the rights of all, particularly the underprivileged and vulnerable.
In a statement, CHRAJ stated that Mr. Whittal was one of three (3) recipients of the Award Medals in the Human Rights category at the second “De Sanctis Award for Human Rights” ceremony, which took place at Rome, Italy’s famed Palace of Justice.
The purpose of the event was to honour outstanding work and highlight the noteworthy accomplishments of well-known individuals who have made a name for themselves in the field of human rights defence.
Among the well-known celebrities in attendance were Gianni Letta, the president of the De Sanctis Award, Francesco De Sanctis, the president of the De Sanctis Foundation, and Margherita Cassano, the first president of the Supreme Court of Cassation.
The jury, presided over by Pietro Curzio, President Emeritus of the Supreme Court of Cassation, explained in their rationale that they decided to honour CHRAJ because of its significant and varied contribution to the defence of human rights outside of Ghana.
The jury stated that their decision stemmed from their profound recognition of CHRAJ’s broad responsibilities and concrete impact, which have elevated Ghana to the status of a global leader in the protection of human rights, especially in light of Ghana’s model guarantee of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority, which is a testament to Ghana’s commitment to fundamental liberties and sets an example for the rest of the world.
The jury also praised Ghana’s progressive posture on the global scene, pointing out that the country supported a UN General Assembly resolution in 2022 calling for an end to the death sentence.
The jury declared that the verdict “was a historic decision underscoring Ghana’s dedication to the principles of humanity and justice.”
Its cooperative efforts and active interactions with international organisations like the United Nations (UN), with particular reference to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, were another strong factor in the awarding of CHRAJ.
The noteworthy alliances with the European Union and participation in regional dialogues of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) worldwide.
In addition, CHRAJ commemorates and participates in UN celebratory events such as International Human Rights Day, World Day Against Child Labour, and International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, among others, demonstrating Ghana’s commitment to implementing critical development policies and programmes while also promoting human rights.
The jury, on the other hand, expressed grave concern about countries that violate democratic norms, excuse human rights violations, and deny fundamental freedoms.
They underlined that such measures hamper domestic progress and harm the fabric of multilateralism, potentially resulting in state disputes.
The award recognises Ghana’s unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as its mandate to protect and promote universal human rights and other freedoms related to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
By Frank Atiase